Newsletter (October 2011)

October 2011
Hi Everyone!

The final term of 2011 is underway and it’s time to wish our matrics the very best for the forthcoming exams. Zizi, Kez and Kwadwo we’re thinking of you!

The third term was an especially busy one for Songworks with the festival, Rockschool and matric music trial and final practical exams. With all of that now successfully behind us we have a few things to look forward to as the year draws to its close.

Looking back for a moment…

The Winter Music Festival 2011!
Thank you to everyone who took part in this superb event. The performances really do just get better and better! To all those who made their debut, well done all of you and thanks to the families and friends who came out to support this event. We are so grateful that you took the time to travel, many of you a long way, to be with us.

Charlene and Mike Vos thank you for supporting Steve and I with the huge task of staging this event. Just transporting and setting up all the equipment is a vast undertaking and took all of Saturday and most of Sunday night! Once again, thank you Ian Rushworth for a brilliant job on photos and to Andrew Ness for great work on the sound engineering. Shannon Rushworth, thank you for flying the “Atomic Chickens” initiative and taking care of the stage.

Songworks is also grateful to Prosound for their association with the school.

Trinity Rockschool Exams
I am delighted to report that all 21 of the Songworks candidates who were entered for the 2011 International Rockschool exams have passed, many with merit or distinction.

Their names, school and music grade achieved are listed below:

Tara Price Laddsworth Grade 2
Gemma Parsons Cowan House Grade 2
Jessica Pinnell Cowan House Grade 2
Cassie Lotze Epworth Grade 2
Lizaan Pelser Voortrekker Grade 2
Jessica Nunes St Anne’s Grade 2
Tatenda Mbanje St Anne’s Grade 2
Seetsele Setlhomo St Anne’s Grade 2
Daniel Von Hoesslin Hilton College Grade 2
Olivia Jonsson St Anne’s Grade 3
Gemma Adey St Anne’s Grade 3
Julia Church St Anne’s Grade 3
Ndzelani Mamba St Anne’s Grade 3
Kwadwo Adjepong-Boateng Hilton College Grade 3
Sipho Gule-Davidson Hilton College Grade 3
Kerry-Lee Black Grace College Grade 4
Tanna Blumberg St Anne’s Grade 5
Georgina Borros St Anne’s Grade 5
Ashleigh Reitz The Wykeham Collegiate Grade 5
Nicola Mayne Epworth Grade 6
Zizile Mthethwa St Anne’s Grade 6

Congratulations to all of you for working hard, conquering your nerves and achieving such a superb set of results!

The St Anne’s Recital on Thursday 22nd September capped a very busy term and we ended with a high note. Thank you Mark Stenhouse for keeping it together right up until the last second! These live performances are what we love the most and it makes all the hard work in the studio worthwhile. Congratulations Olivia Jonsson, Gemma Adey, Julia Church, Georgi Borros, Abi Nelson, Zizi Mthethwe and Tanna Blumberg who represented contemporary vocals with such self-assurance and enthusiasm.

And now looking forward …

Own The Night
The Songworks Music School members of Who’s That Girl, Lady Rock, Noise To Men - and myself – will be performing our show Own the Night at a year-end party to be held at the Yellowwood Cafe in Howick on Friday 2nd December at 7.00pm. This will take place instead of a full scale December festival. We have planned a dinner/show/party so put on your dancing shoes and get ready to celebrate a successful year! Members of the joint company are: Jess Pinnell, Gemma Parsons, Tara Price, Tara Martin, Cassie Lotze, Grace Crookes, Gemma Adey, Sian Gunkel, Lizaan Pelser, Ashleigh Reitz, Julia Church, Georgi Borros, Chloe Heunis, Nikki Mayne, Shannon Harvey, Kez Black, Charlene Vos, Tanna Blumberg Abi Nelson, Michelle Smith, Mike Vos, Craig Anderson, Sean Anderson, Liam McKintosh and myself with Steve Stark as technical director.

Tickets will be R165 per person which includes a two course meal. We are planning to seat about 60 people in the venue on large round tables. If you wish to attend you will need to book (and pay!) by the end of October because I have agreed with Sandra to pay for a minimum of 50 people in order to secure the venue – you will appreciate that a Friday night at the beginning of December is a very popular date. Members of Future Shock and younger siblings of the performers are welcome to attend but this is an adult event not one aimed at kiddies!

Live Sound and Studio Equipment
In addition to the equipment we already have (which is substantial) and other equipment we have purchased this year, we are delighted to have just added 2 state of the art Bose L1 Compact systems – the latest generation sound equipment from the United States. These systems are ideal for the musician “on the move”. Lightweight, portable and incredibly powerful these sound systems look set to become the market leader for performing musicians. Before you buy any new PA equipment just come into the studio and take a look at (and listen to) these Bose systems.

Facebook Page and Website or

If you haven’t already discovered it, we have a page on Facebook! Please visit Tracy Stark Songworks to view and download any new or current information or photos.

Working Round and About
As you all know I am a working musician and need to perform in order to keep fresh and current and maintain my industry contacts. I apologise for the inconvenience of missing classes when I need to be away and thank you for your understanding with regard to this. I will always try to make these classes up or you will receive a refund. This term Jeff Judge and I performed at the Hilton Festival and it was great to see some of your (familiar) faces coming out in support of us.

Class Fees and Non-ArrivalsOnly New Parents Need Read This Section!
Most of you know the protocol regarding payment and non-arrivals but for those new to the studio I wish to point out the following:

Fees payment is not calculated on attendance but on a commitment to a weekly timeslot which is set aside for you or your child. A few students who have pre-arranged to pay on a weekly basis may continue to do so. For everyone else fees must be paid in full a month in advance. I need to stress that classes that are missed will be charged for. If you or your child do not attend class due to illness, school events that suddenly spring up, family holidays etc. during term time the full monthly/term fee is payable as the weekly place in the studio has been allocated to you. My teaching colleagues in Pietermaritzburg and other towns tell me that charging for missed appointments is common practice as it certainly is in many other professions. I appreciate the support and co-operation I have received from those parents that Steve and I have discussed this with.

I feel very uncomfortable about charging for non-attendance but there were many days last year when 8 hours of lessons dwindled to just 1 or 2 and it is very frustrating just sitting around waiting for students who do not turn up. Also the roll-over effect of having a 40% attendance on some days meant that on other days rescheduling the timetable resulted in a very long and very crammed day with more than 10 hours teaching. Students were shuttled in and out of here and I felt that the quality of my teaching suffered and certain students were compromised through no fault of their own. The School is fully booked Monday to Friday between the most popular times of 1.30pm and 8.30pm and Saturday 8.15am – 2.45pm and there is a waiting list for these ‘prized’ slots so I need to keep my timetable consistent and manageable. Thank you for your understanding.

In addition I must mention that if you are late for class your lesson will have to be cut short. A lot of people are on a very tight schedule and the knock on effect of late classes means other people later in the day may be inconvenienced. It is for this reason that I need to run to time!

Students who want to attend classes on a once-off or ad hoc basis are more than welcome but can only be scheduled for weekday mornings and Saturday afternoons subject to availability.

School Administration
The administration of the school has been handed over to Steve Stark, my music producer, partner, husband and lead guitarist. I’m sure most of you know him quite well by now!  He administers and runs the other half of our music business – the Songworks Recording Studios – and he has taken over my accounts and bookings schedule. Those who require them will be getting weekly SMS reminders for classes and other helpful information to help the school run more smoothly.

Steve’s phone number is 072 576 2794 and as you will not be able to contact me on my cell phone during teaching times please feel free to contact him.

Coming and Going
I try not to leave anyone stranded at the gate but sometimes when you ring the bell someone may be mid-song and I can only get to you in a couple of minutes. Please be patient if that happens. (If it’s raining I promise I’ll let you in quickly!)

For their safety students are also not allowed out of the gate until you, or the school transport provided, arrive to collect them.

Songworks CDs
Gershon’s debut CD is making a huge impact and is quite literally having a stunning effect on people. He and I have collaborated on a number of tracks. If you missed our finale at the Winter Concert this is your chance to hear it and I am going to be very bold here: we are fantastic! Steve has done a brilliant production job and we’ve already sold significant number of copies. We are selling copies of Gershon’s CD at the usual price of R120 and I ask all of you to support his incredible talent. There are 11 tracks on the CD. (And yes, he does receive a percentage of the sales!)

Like A Star
Prayer For The Dying
Make You Feel My Love
Separate Lives
One Day I’ll Fly Away
Something Stupid
Hometown Glory
Fix You
(Bonus Christmas Track)

A number of other students have also embarked on CD projects (some demo and others using a more sophisticated production process) and when they are completed they will also be available from the school. I’m sure many of you would like to support your friends’ music and so I will let you know who’s got what on offer so that you can purchase copies. I would urge everyone in the school to resist ripping and distributing CDs as they are expensive to produce and if we can’t rely on our friends to buy our music it’s a very sad world indeed!

I’m happy to report that my own CDs The Collection (R120), Reflections (R120) and Live at Brookfield (R140) continue to sell well. Extracts of all of them can be heard on my website and the full CDs ordered online or purchased from the studio. Thanks to all of you who’ve already bought copies.

Best wishes to you all.

Dr Tracy Stark

Songworks Music School
Email Tracy at

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